Football Club Zenit
Founded in May 1925 through the Leningradsky Metallichesky Zavod (LMZ, a machine-building plant in St Petersburg), FC Zenit’s trophy cabinet covers every single national championship in Russia, including championship cups, USSR and Russian Super Cups, and the former Premier League Cup. In 2020 Zenit, for the second time in its history, scooped every single one of Russia’s national trophies, becoming country champions and winning the Russian Cup and the Russian Super Cup.
Zenit is not just a leader in Russian football, but has also seen genuine success in Europe, winning the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup, as well as being a regular feature in Europe’s most prestigious club tournament — the UEFA Champions League.
But its sporting successes are by no means the only thing Zenit can be proud of. To St Petersburg, this isn’t just a football club, but a genuine symbol of the city — and a reflection of its cultural and historical values. Research suggests that Zenit has some 15 million supporters in Russia, and consultancy ratings consistently place it among the top 100 most valuable sports brands in the world.
Its home stadium — the Gazprom Arena — is a particular source of pride for Zenit, hosting four Confederation Cup matches (including the final) in the summer of 2017, as well as hosting seven matches of the 2018 World Cup. The Gazprom Arena has the highest footfall of any stadium in the country, with more than 1.3 million fans attending the blue-white-light-blues’ home matches during the 2018/29 season.
HC Avangard is one of the strongest teams in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL)
Founded in 1950, this Omsk team (also known as Avangard Omsk) has been playing in Russia’s top hockey division since the early 1990s. The “Hawks” first made it onto a Russian Championship Super League winners’ podium for the first time in 1996, as bronze medallists.
The Omsk team’s greatest success came in 2004, when they won the Russia Championship Super League, before winning the IIHF European Champions Cup in 2005. They have been on the podium a further three times, as silver medallists in the 2001 and 2006 Russian Championship Super League, and as bronze medallists in 2007.
Avangard Omsk have won the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) Eastern Conference twice, as well as being silver medallists in 2012 and 2019. They also took the Viktor Tikhonov Kontinental Cup in 2011 as winners of the KHL regular season.
Former club juniors Victor Blinkov and Sergei Kalinin have been on winning teams at the Olympic Games, while Victor Blinov, Yuri Shatalov, Anton Kuryanov, Alexander Perezhogin, Alexander Svitor, Nikita Nikitin and Sergei Kalinin have been part of winning Russian and USSR World Championship teams.
HC SKA St Petersburg
SKA is the only St Petersburg club in the KHL
Founded in 1946, HC SKA has been a regular feature in the national championships, at the highest level. The club are two-time holders of the Gagarin Cup (2015 and 2017), Russian Championship Super League winners (2017) and silver medallists (2015). SKA are also five-time USSR and Russian Championship Super League bronze medallists (1971, 1987, 2013, 2018 and 2019), and four-time KHL Championship bronze medallists (2013, 2016, 2018 and 2019). They have won the Viktor Tikhonov Kontinental Cup twice (2013 and 2018), and the Spengler Cup four times (1970, 1971, 1977 and 2010).
But SKA are not just stars of the KHL. The club’s “SKA System” is made up of four professional teams and nine hockey academies. A team of master players plays in the KHL; SKA-Neva play in the Supreme Hockey League; and the SKA-1946 and SKA-Varyagi teams defend the club’s colours against other Russian Championship League youth teams. Official matches and training are held at SKA’s training centre, the Hockey City multifunctional complex.
SKA’s Hockey City is a single site hosting two ice arenas, a sports hall, a gym, a martial arts zone, a hotel, a conference hall, the Red Machine Ice Hockey Development Centre, the SKA Medical Centre, and equipment and uniform outlet, and numerous other facilities. Establishing the Hockey Centre has involved some of the most cutting-edge sports-facilities management techniques in the world. The entire complex and its facilities, moreover, are fully accessible to both professionals and fans.
SKA’s mission is to create a ground-breaking sports cluster, with the best training and competition facilities in Europe. As well as scaling the heights of international professional sport, the club sees a role for itself in encouraging people to take up healthy lifestyles.
FC Crvena Zvezda – Red Star Belgrade
Serbia’s most successful football club, and the country’s only European Cup winner
Red Star Belgrade was founded in 1945 on the initiative of the Unified League of Anti-Fascist Youth of Yugoslavia. Red Star Belgrade has won the national championship 30 times, the first occasion being just one year following its foundation, in 1946 — the same year in which it won the country’s national cup.
The team has also proved successful on the international arena, winning the Danube Cup in 1958, the most prestigious trophy in European football — the European Cup — in 1991, and the International Cup that same year. The Belgrade team have taken part in the finals and semi-finals of Europe’s most prestigious cup tournaments, on several occasions.
Many Red Star Belgrade players have carved their names into world football history, with legendary athletes including Rajko Mitic, Dragoslav Shekularatz, Dragan Džajić, Vladimir Petrovic and Dragan Stojkovic donning the red and white club strip, and all having been awarded the ultimate club accolade, as a “Star of Stars”.
The Gazprom Neft Cup
The Gazprom Neft Cup KHL Kids Hockey Tournament is the largest sports competition of its kind in Europe, bringing together KHL children’s teams in the under-11 age group. The Tournament uses a divisional model.